Inspirational Success Stories From Academy Of Art University Alumni

Academy alumni have gone on to achieve impressive successes in their creative fields. – Students of all ages and backgrounds attend San Francisco’s Academy of Art University to enjoy the art school’s industry-centered approach to creative education.

The school’s working professionals and artists who give students real insights into their future industries, allowing them to become familiar with expected workflows, challenges, software, hardware, and general practices. While many universities focus only on traditional classroom education, Academy of Art University offers a hands-on future-proofed, modern approach to artistic degrees.

As a result, Academy of Art University boasts a network of 50,000 highly successful alumni, comprising some of the most sought-after creative professionals in today’s art and design landscapes. You’ll find Academy of Art alumni in every country, developing award-winning advertisement campaigns, sell-out games, and internationally acclaimed movies.

Here are five success stories from Academy of Art University’s alumni.

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1. Award-Winning Director Tosin Coker

Academy of Art University has helped numerous budding directors to make their debuts on the movie scene. Amongst these directors, film student Tosin Coker graduated from the School of Motion Pictures & Television with his thesis project Doorways, a movie that stars Emmy Award winner Diahna Nicole Baxter and Elimu Nelson.

During 2011/12, Doorways competed in a variety of domestic and international film festivals, including the Pan-African Film Festival and Texas Black Film Festival. The movie then premiered on Aspire Networks ABFF Independent, before H-Studios picked up the movie in a global distribution deal.

Last year, Doorways then won the Audfest Film and Innovation Festival out of 4,000 short film entries from around the world. Few students can dream that their thesis would lead to such success over a decade. But, ten years on, Tosin’s movie is still remarkably relevant and generating industry attention.

Read Academy of Art University’s exclusive interview with Tosin.

2. Concept Artist Chaowat Lertsachanant

In 2020, Visual Development graduate Chaowat “Pong” Lertsachanant has channelled his love for San Francisco into compelling illustrations for the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Throughline” series. The Chronicle found Pong on Instagram, where they approached him asking for illustrations of how the city may look in 10–20 years.

Pong created eight panels, which depict a post-Covid San Francisco, filled with passers-by once again going about their day-to-day routines. Each panel tells its own story but fits with its counterparts in a cohesive collection – a wider story of how our post-pandemic life might look.

Having graduated from the school in 2020, Pong now works on the Sims 4 team at Electronic Arts, a job that he secured through displaying his work in the Academy’s renowned Spring Show.

Learn more about Pong’s designs.

3. Blockbuster-Movie Animator Elham Sepehrjou

Elham Sepehrjou sacrificed everything when she left her family in Iran to study Animation at the Academy of Art University and pursue the career of her dreams. Having now completed her studies, Elham knows that she made the right choice. Not only has she has gone on to work for Halon Entertainment, Day for Nite, and the Moving Picture Company, but she now works as a 3D animator and visualization artist on blockbuster movies, including Men in Black: International, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Avengers: Endgame.

“I learned so much,” says Elham. “I learned a lot from the instructors, obviously, but also [formed] industry connections. And I made some good friends. I even learned a lot about life. As a person who was new to the United States, it was the best way for learning about American culture. Moreover, coming to this diverse school with students from the whole world was an amazing experience to learn from many nations.”

Take a look at Elham’s animation work.

4. Prize-winning Comic Artist Erica Eng

Though many students relocate to San Francisco to attend the school, geographical restrictions need not be an issue for students who live elsewhere. Academy of Art University offers a host of online courses so that students in any country can reap all the benefits of ‘attending’ such a world-class university without having to relocate. For example, this year, Malaysia’s online Animation student Erica Eng has won the prestigious Best Webcomic Eisner Award for her comic ‘Fried Rice’.

The Eisner Awards are widely considered the comics-industry equivalent of the Academy Awards for motion pictures and are usually announced at San Diego’s annual Comic-Con (though the awards ceremony took place virtually in 2020). Erica’s Animation degree helped her to visualize a compelling plot for her semi-fictional account of a student’s quest for an arts education. Erica is now developing her comic into a novel.

Take a look at Erica’s award-winning comic.

5. Veteran-Turned Game Animator David Markowitz

When navy veteran David Markowitz decided he wanted to transition into animation, Academy of Art University offered him the opportunity of a lifetime. Thanks to the school’s inclusive admissions process, David’s lack of experience in art and design didn’t affect his application. Academy of Art University encourages candidates of all skill levels to apply for courses, believing that any student with passion and willpower can learn from the Academy’s expert lecturers and tutors.

A few years on, David is now the Lead Animator at the award-winning mobile games company Jam City, which is the name behind some of the highest-grossing games on the planet. He leads the teams that work on Disney games, such as Disney Frozen Adventures.

He’s also worked as the lead animator on Cartoon Network’s HiHi Puffy Ami Yumi Show and on The Proud Family Shorties, as well as at The Walt Disney Company, where he spent ten years. Dave has even animated an entirely autonomous robot for Disneyland Resort, winning him the Disney Inventor Award.

Learn more about Dave’s animation career.

Supporting Further Career Development With Alumni Tuition Benefit

Academy of Art University encourages continual professional development and offers the Alumni Tuition Benefit to support alumni with a 20% discount off additional courses and degrees. The program supports alumni’s career development, even after graduation, and encourages them to further their skill sets with additional knowledge and trainings.

About Academy Of Art University

Based in San Francisco—the heart of California’s creative and cultural community— Academy of Art University enables students to qualify for creative careers in numerous sectors, from jewelry-making to fashion, advertising, architecture, art history, graphic design, fine art, and photography, amongst others.

Not only is San Francisco a melting pot for creative and technological industries as the epicenter of innovation and design, but it’s also located conveniently close to all major studios in the Bay area, as well as Los Angeles, which is home to many more creative businesses. Though family-owned, the multi-award-winning art school is one of the biggest private, accredited art and design schools in America.

Learn more about Academy of Art University and its alumni.

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